CRepHS Research News

Promising new researcher obtains prestigious fellowship award

Juan Ferreira, PhD, postdoctoral research associate in the Santi Lab, recently earned a fellowship award from the Lalor Foundation for his research on a new assay to evaluate sperm fertilization capacity in infertile patients.

“I would like to express thanks to Drs. England, Blanco, Lishko and Frank for their support of this project,” Ferreira states, “and my deepest gratitude to my mentor, Dr. Celia Santi. They all were invaluable in my efforts to achieve this research funding.”

Dr. Ferreira’s “WHICH-A.R.T.” project is a research endeavor aimed at developing a reliable and clinically feasible assay that can personalize assisted reproductive technologies (ART) or fertility treatment plans for normozoospermic infertile men.

“By measuring sperm membrane potential and intracellular calcium in response to changes in the intracellular alkalinization, we seek to evaluate the activity of ion channels crucial for sperm fertilization capacity,” explains Ferreira. 

The research project will primarily take place in the lab of Dr. Santi on the Washington University School of Medicine campus in the Central West End. The Lalor Foundation will provide $55,000 per year to cover fellowship stipend, fringes, and institutional overhead.

After the conclusion of this project, Dr. Ferreira and team expect to provide an accurate prediction of the fertilization rate of a semen sample, thereby reducing the need for simultaneous ART procedures, increasing the number of fertilized oocytes retrieved, and mitigating the emotional, physical, and financial costs associated with repeated infertility treatment cycles. Furthermore, the project aims to assist patients in choosing the most appropriate ART for their individual case.

Dr. Ferreira begins his 12-month-long fellowship program on June 1st.

The Lalor Foundation postdoctoral fellowship program supports promising new researchers in establishing scientific and teaching careers in the field of mammalian reproductive biology as related to the regulation of fertility. Learn more at